View Full Version : Jake bit me...again!

Cathy T
12th May 2006, 11:21 PM
I'm totally at my wit's end with this boy. I don't know what the he** is going on but it has to stop! Here's the scenario:

I put their snoods on
I make them sit while I prepare their food
I put Jake's food down on one side of the kitchen and Shelby's on the other
Shelby finished first, I take off her snood, she goes and sit by the stove, I pick up her bowl
Jake finished and I go to take his snood off, and he snaps!!! What the heck is happening? If I manage to get his snood off without getting bit he'll sometimes go after Shelby. They never ever fight except at this time.

Tonight I stuck my foot between them to separate them and Jake bit at my pants, I put my arm down and he bit the inside of my arm. He didn't break the skin, but I have a little blue bruise there.

I'll try putting them on separate sides of the doggie gate tomorrow, but don't know if that will solve anything. I can't get the damn snood off his head without him snapping around trying to bite it.

Any ideas??? I lost it tonight and screamed my bloody head off at him. He laid on the couch pouting. I was so angry I couldn't go near him for fear of what I'd do. I'm worn out with this. Help!!!

13th May 2006, 04:29 AM
Do you think it has anything to do with the snood? Like, if he has some kind of ear infection or pain that is sensitive when the snood comes off, some irritation?

No wonder you're so upset.

13th May 2006, 10:45 AM
I'm going to have Tara or Lisa (certified behaviouralists) have a look at this. When did this this begin?

My first thought (because it is easiest to do) would be to get the dogs into a situation that starts to remove the potantial flashpoint. The easiest way to do this is to feed them totally separately and see if Jake is still snapping. As in, feed them in separate rooms or with a divider so they can't see each other.

My second thought (and I agree here with Judy) is if this is associated with the snood, that there could be pain involved making him snap as this seems very out of character for him from all you've ever written about Jake. I would be checking first for anything causing an ear infection or for something like a foxtail that might have worked into his ear canal. Given the high incidence in the breed, I think though I hate to say this, that you also need to consider PSOM, which can cause great pain in some dogs, or syringomyelia, which also causes a lot of pain in the ear area in particular. PSOM can sometimes be visually diagnosed. Certainly the pain from both these affilictions cause my two to dodge my hand if it approaches their ears on the side that bothers them most (Jaspar has increasing irritation rom PSOM now; Leo is very sensisitive on the right side of his head from his SM).

Rory's mom probably has some ideas on this as well. But snapping is a fairly serious thing to start happening in a dog that has never been prone to this, and given all that you've written about Jake in the past, it just sounds out of character as a point of irritation with Shelby. But try first to separate them and see if that helps as well as having Jak'es ears checked thoroughly.

If it is behavioural, I would be inclined to simply feed them in separate rooms or in crates placed at a distance, and leave it at that, or put Jake in the crate. Lots of dogs like their own space for eating and if eating is a flashpoint, it is better to put the dog into a situation where it behaves as you want.

The concern here is that he isn't snapping at Shelby but at you and that Shelby is already far across the room. So it seems unlikely that Shelby is a trigger. Nor is he prone to snapping at you in any other circumstance. That's why I am wondering about a medical cause (eg pain or discomfort) that only occurs in this sole situation -- and perhaps the snoods and handling the ears in this particular way (eg the way they get positioned in the snood and then released), are it?

13th May 2006, 03:19 PM
Certainly rule out medical first. Does he show pain when you manipulate his ears other times? Or only with the snood? Does he dodge away ffrom the snood when you put it on? Try putting it on in a different situation unrelated to dinner and what does he do?

I know he's shown food aggression towards Shelby before, but this is odd because it's AFTER they eat. And in the past, has he ever directed this behavivor towwards you without provocation from Shelby trying to get to his food or anything??

It's odd, for sure. Check his ears, around his head, check for wounds, foxtails (you know how bad they are down there! he could have one stuck in his ear and causing pain -- but then you'd expect to also see scratching at the ears or other indications of discomfort). I'd ask the vet to check his ears out anyway. Could be PSOM but that is not always easily diagnosed. Only if it's really bad and the pressure and mucus behind the eardrum has built up a ton, causing the ear drum to bulge out. You said you haven't seen any other symptoms of SM, right?

Certainly see what he does wiith the snood in differernt circumstances. It's not just excited biting at the snood like Rory does when I put his on or when I put his harness on. It's aggressive biting that is causing pain and bruising on you. Eventually it could break skin. So out of character...

So yea -- I'd suggest ruling out medical problems, first. Then see if you can isolate what is causing this behavior. Feed him totally separate from Shelby. In a different room where he can't see you, etc. It's just odd... I dunno, Cathy. :?

Cathy T
13th May 2006, 03:22 PM
I had a little experiment with the snood last night without the food. I put it on him, got him relaxed and slipped it off his head...no problem. Also, I've inspected him from top to bottom, manipulated his ears and neck and head, looked inside his ears and smelled them and don't see or feel anything.

I am going to try feeding Shelby in a separate room and see what happens. He snaps at the snood coming off and that sets him off in frenzy and he goes after Shelby. I break them up and he snaps at me. So, I'll try to remove one part of the situation...being fed in the same room and see what happens.

Also, no more breathe biscuit immediately after dinner. He goes into a frenzy as soon as he finishes his dinner because he knows the biscuit is next.

We'll try this tonight and see what happens. Maybe lowering the anxiety of both of them in the same room will help.

I'll let you all know what happens.

Thanks for your suggestions.

13th May 2006, 03:29 PM
Just try no snood and see what happens. I would change that before changing any thing else, actually. So you can rule it out as the main instigator. B ut you're right -- it could be a combo of the snood --> excited -->snapping at Shelbly --> snapping at you. But it still seems weird for jake.. :?

13th May 2006, 05:09 PM
I was just at classes with Tara and Lisa and one of them will come respond, too. :thmbsup:

13th May 2006, 05:58 PM
i just began watching the Dog Whisperer show for the first time in the past week. so i'm thinking, what would he do here? Assert pack leader dominance, have the dog act out the behavior and block him, coercively overpower him to the extent needed. You are prepared in advance so you know what the dog will do, you anticipate it and are ready to block it, getting the dog's attention with a combination of physical restraint and nonverbal language communicating dominance and reassurance. his theory seems to be that aggressive behaviors are manifestations of anxiety and fear, and dogs are reassured and relaxed when in the presence of a stronger pack leader who will take care of them. i'm trying to picture how this would be done in this situation. i'm not necessarily advocating this approach, whatever it would be. i've just started getting serious about obedience and behavior, and am reading jean fennell and several others. I wish they all had TV shows. Those demonstrations are good to watch. The show includes warnings that say "Don't try these methods at home without consulting a professional."

Of course, rule out medical causes as much as possible first.

How frustrating the PSOM can be so hard to diagnose, but you have already tested out the ears in other situations so thank goodness, it doesn't seem like that.

good luck Cathy, that is frustrating and upsetting.

Cathy T
13th May 2006, 06:16 PM
He has no problems with me putting the snood on. He'll happily stick his head right in there. He's much better if I put the snood on and take it off unrelated to dinner.

He's never done this and doesn't do it in any other situation. I can put my hand on him while he's eating, take a toy or treat from his mouth, and he is always fine with it.

I was going to put Shelby in another room to eat but I think I'll put him in the other room instead, without me being in the room with him. I was going to try just the same room without a snood on him but it's almost like Shelby in her snood upsets him as much. Plus...she has a tendency to "eyeball" him.

I've tried to exert dominance while standing in front of him but he's in such a frenzy to get around me and get to her it's not working. As soon as I break them up they are both fine. Little boogers will actually go sit together on the couch, hanging off the edge, in their usual "waiting for a treat" position.

I used to have problems while I was fixing their food. I would have them sit side by side while I prepared their food and they would be eyeballing each other the whole time. Every once in a while a fracas would break out. We had finally gotten past that point. They both wait very nicely while I fix their food, they're fine while eating. It's the time between finishing, taking off the snoods and picking up the food bowls.

We'll try several different things over the next couple of nights and see what happens.

Looking forward to seeing what Tara and Lisa have to say also.


13th May 2006, 06:28 PM
I'm going to issue my standard Dog Whisperer warning here as I am increasingly alarmed at how much positive press this man has received. This is of course my opinion but I feel very strongly that his approaches to training should have no place in training a cavalier (I also realise training methods often bitterly divide dog people but I am very concerned about some of the more physical methods he advocates which IMHO are potentially harsh and even potentially risky to use with cavaliers. Also his whole language of managing a dog to me is shocking -- like the old 1960s training methods where choke chains were standard even for small breeds).

A lot of trainers have major problems with the Dog Whisperer's approach. These kinds of dominance theories are considered not just quite outdated approaches to training by many internationally-respected certification programmes these days but can actually be detrimental and even dangerous when applied without a full knowledge of dog behaviour -- most especially with an aggressive dog, and even more so when the causes for the aggression are not understood. So please, please do NOT try to be more dominant as this behaviour could be related to fear, anxiety or frustration ALL of which can be exacerbated by traditional dominance approaches INCLUDING the Dog Whisperer's.

The fact that his training schools apparently use choke chains (as cited in a current lawsuit against him) is a real warning signal as well that this type of approach has absolutely nothing to do with the Horse Whisperer, Monty Robert's famous positive motivation-based approaches to training (which then became the basis of the book and then the film the Horse Whisperer). I am not sure how or why the Dog Whisperer is able to use a 'brand' so closely related to one person -- Monty Roberts -- whose entire training philosophy towards animals is at odds with physical corrections and using special gear to subdue a dog or the notion of pitting wills against an animal as advocated in his dominance/submission approach noted previously.

I encourage people to read widely in training philosophies and not be overly impressed by the ability of some to seemingly enact training miracles on television. It is far easier to get a response from an animal by making it fearful of consequences of 'wrong' behaviour rather than motivated towards successful choices of 'right' behaviour, but this seriously alters your relationship with that animal in what I think is a very sad way. Especially our gentle cavaliers -- I think this diminishes confidence rather than enhances it. Also some people --including most pro trainers -- are simply very good at getting responses from ANY animal. You wouldn't necessarily want to use their approach unless it fits your philosophy and level of ability and knowledge. For example I know my boys behave better whenever Tara and Lisa are in my house. :lol:

I can testify to seeing miraculous changes in very aggressive dogs using an entirely motivational approach in only two days, in a weekend seminar by Dee Ganley (who is wonderful but sadly will never be likely to have that glossy TV glamour personality that brings TV fame) -- see www.deesdogs.com for her approach. BTW she is internationally known for success with aggressive dogs including in demanding environments such as police and customs. So this isn't some 'namby-pamby' bleeding heart method of training, but a SUCCESSFUL method of training and rehabilitating dogs from the most demanding environments. She does not use typical old-style dominance/submission theories or encourage anyone to think in these ways. I also watched a jaw-dropping video of dee working an entire row of kennels in an animal shelter full of anxious, barking, jumping, sometimes furious dogs. Starting at one end, you watch her in sequence get every single dog to sit quietly and wait for its kennel door to be opened so she can enter quietly, a task that took her an average of 3 minutes per dog. Really amazing, but so simple to motivate them in a positive way! I tried this on my two to get them to wait for me to go through a door first and it too took all of two-three minutes -- no body blocking, jerking backwards, leash corrections required. It was fun! And they know to wait now very poltiely.

I prefer to stick with trainers and theories that get responses by inspiring rather than intimidating or confronting dogs.

Now I will get off my soapbox. :)

PS Judy, Jan Fennell has had two or three TV series in the UK. :)

13th May 2006, 07:17 PM
I'm wondering if the cancer in his mouth is back and he's super sensitive--in the jaw/ear canal area and the combination of eating and removing the snood (he doesn't do it when it's being put on) is causing even more sensation as he doesn't seem to do it before when you put the snood on. I'm not trying to alarm you Cathy, with mentioning the "C" word, but just wanted to put it out there in trying to figure out what's bothering poor Jake. :(

Cathy T
14th May 2006, 01:50 AM
We had a much much smoother dinner tonight. I fed Shelby in the bedroom and let them have a few minutes after eating before opening up the door again. Jake actually had the time and interest in licking his bowl. Ususally he's so intent on scarfing down his food and in a frenzy. AFter eating I gave him his breath biscuit and some water. And then...dun dun dun dun...removed the snood without him snapping at me!! Hooray!! I guess the anxiety level was just too much.

What did I learn? That sometimes I just need to modify the situation rather than trying to force acceptance. It sure makes everybody much happier.

14th May 2006, 06:52 AM
that's good news.

14th May 2006, 03:11 PM
What did I learn? That sometimes I just need to modify the situation rather than trying to force acceptance. It sure makes everybody much happier.

This is so true!!